My WBC 2013 -- A Return to Something That I Used to Know
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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WBC 2013 marked my 17th straight trek to what I once knew as "Avaloncon." (I mistitled my list last year ... *this* was the 17th year). My love for the convention has ebbed and flowed over the past number of years ...

I started posting reports in 2009 -- here are links to my previous reports:

I turned 40 at the WBC and all I got was more wrinkles
WBC 2010 - The End of an Era?
WBC 2011 - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
WBC 2012 - My 17th Visit

This year did not bode well. I was laid off from my job in January, which made the weeks/months leading up to WBC particularly stressful. Making matters worse, I tried to run an auction to help defray some of the costs, which turned into a giant problem here (the thread is in "Complaints" for the morbidly curious of you). Apparently, I have a knack for drama (more on that later).

Nevertheless, I headed down to Lancaster, where I had tried my hardest to make arrangements with as many people as I could ahead of time.

In many ways, the WBC, itself, was one of the more enjoyable ones I’ve had. Afterwards .... a little less so.
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1. Board Game: Key Market [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:922]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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After arriving in Lancaster (after a robust nearly 6-hour drive, when Google Maps suggested 3.5), Friday evening ultimately became a dinner at Cracker Barrel, a quick trip to WalMart to get rations for the week, and bed.

Saturday morning we awoke to head to downtown Lancaster to visit Central Market (a thrice-weekly farmer’s market with locally grown stuff for sale). We had eaten a large breakfast at the Host before we left, however (compliments of the free breakfast buffet coupons; a nice touch!), and as such, we didn’t get the Market as hungry as we usually were – consequently, we bought significantly less!

On the advice of a friend, we walked the five blocks to visit “The Fractured Prune” – a high-end (?) donut shop. This was truly decadent – they fry each of the donuts, and place them into a box; then cover each donut individually, based on the flavors you’ve ordered (my wife, for example, got an “Elvis” – peanut butter and banana flavored). Highly recommended!
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2. Board Game: 1830: Railways & Robber Barons [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:110]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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For the weeks leading up to the con, I’d begged my gaming group to play an 18xx – even a shorter one – so I could get back in practice (I hadn’t played one, to completion, since last year’s WBC). That didn’t seem to work out. So, I headed into the 1830 game, basically, cold. Playing with the GM and a perennial finalist. When you’re playing at a table and everyone else is calling out the tiles by number, you’re in trouble.

Things went as expected. I made a dumb mistake in the first round (hoping the timing would work in my favor ... it didn’t ... I lost my “2” trains before I could make a delivery). Then, I jumped all over a company someone else left open for the taking; before realizing *why* it was open for the taking. My end came swiftly. The only solace I took was the person who ended the game (when he didn’t need to; just so he could issue the “final blow”) fell to second when I had to sell off his stocks after going bankrupt.

My friend, Brian,

Brian Stone
United States
Calverton
New York
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playing at another table, also went bankrupt. Guess our inability to get in even one play of the game before the con really hurt us more than we expected.
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3. Board Game: Goa [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:56]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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With an earlier-than-expected end to my 18xx experience, Brian and I met up with Max

Max Jamelli
United States
Chambersburg
Pennsylvania
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and my brother-in-law, who was visiting to go to Dutch Wonderland on Monday. We broke out Goa, which I had promised to teach Max (and, which my brother-in-law had played before).

Earlier in the week, I’d commented on Facebook that I’d much rather play a game, finish in last place and laugh/have a good time the whole game; than finish first in a completely silent game. I laughed a lot in this game ... finishing in dead last (a theme that would continue for some time).
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4. Board Game: Santa Fe Rails [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:1248]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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My brother-in-law went to bed; and we added Winton

Winton Lemoine
United States
Los Angeles
California
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for a game of Santa Fe Rails. I’m usually pretty good at this game (which is a combination of luck *and* skill), but this would not be one of those evenings. Winton, who had led off by saying, “I’ve never won this game,” ran away with it. I finished in – you guessed it – dead last, again.

My convention was off to a rousing start. At least Age of Steam wasn’t in the convention this year, so I wouldn’t have to be destroyed by the Quebecois again!
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5. Board Game: Eden [Average Rating:5.62 Overall Rank:8148]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Each year, a number of us head to the Eden Resort – a luxurious Sunday brunch buffet that dwarfs any I’ve been to before. The food is exquisite; and – though it’s a little pricey – it’s totally worth it. There is a full breakfast station; salad, hot entrees, make-your-own-pasta and a carving area; and the dessert station is monstrous. In truth, this is the only meal I eat that day.
 
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6. Board Game: Galaxy Trucker [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:85]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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I had been interested in playing Galaxy Trucker – in potentially playing in the tournament, and also, just playing it (because, I’d only played once or twice before). I grabbed Harry

Harry Flawd
United States
Pennsylvania
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and Max, along with my friend Allan

Allan Rothberg
United States
Farmingdale
Unspecified
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(who owned the game), and we sat down to get through it.

Okay – that’s not entirely true. Alan took a *really* long time to get there (and each of my texts to him was met with a “10 minutes” response)



When we finally got to playing, it became clear that Allan hadn’t played in a while, and didn’t remember *all* the rules (one in particular – the fact that you don’t use *all* 20 cards, every round – as we learned, it’s nearly impossible to sustain a ship through all those cards).

Max managed to get through Round 1, and made 33 credits. However, we all crashed in rounds 2 and 3, and everyone but Max ended completely broke (although, Max did end up with 3 credits). Max and Harry were non-plussed by the game (as was I, until I read up on the rules and saw where we’d gone wrong).
 
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7. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.21 Overall Rank:4]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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I’ve played a decent amount of Through the Ages online, so – while I don’t consider myself an expert, by any means, I think I’m capable of holding my own.

I sat down with Chris Senhouse and Winton. Early on, I saw an opportunity to grab a big military lead, so I took it. Suddenly, I was at 10 or 11, and everyone else was at 0 or 1. This was great! Except ... I had no aggression or war cards in my hand. And, three turns later, I still hadn’t gotten any. Advantage, lost. Eventually, everyone else caught up to me.

In the third age, the wonders came out late – I grabbed Fast Food Chains and Chris grabbed First Space Flight and engineering genius. When we counted, there were two turns left (not three, as I’d hoped). I realized, right away, I couldn’t build my wonder, so I abandoned it; but Chris finished his, and Winton (who had been in last most of the game) scored enough to finish two points ahead of me (with Chris’ wonder the difference – without it, we would all have been within three points of each other). Most interestingly, only *three* scoring cards were seeded for the endgame.

And, we finished in about 3.5 hours, which is pretty near perfect (there’s *no* reason for this game to take 5-6 hours).
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8. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.87 Overall Rank:19]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Hoping to finally finish a game in a position OTHER than last, I met up with a bunch of my friends to play 7 Wonders in the bar. It was an unusual game in that *no one* seemed to be going for science. I muddled along with the rest of the pack and finished fourth – breaking my streak (thankfully), but not really feeling good about my abilities at this point.
 
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9. Board Game: Citadels [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:215]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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So, then, we hit Citadels (another game that plays 7). In this game, after having been assassinated or stolen from 6 times in the first 7 turns of the game, I decided to finally start picking my role randomly. Amazingly, this worked (because, now, no one could try and figure out what I took – and, more importantly, it also took a role away from someone else who might’ve wanted it more!). I still got assassinated or stolen from more than anyone else from that point forward, but I managed to get out some buildings, and finished 6th overall.
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10. Board Game: The Dutch Golden Age [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:2300]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Monday was a non-gaming day. We decided to take Nicolo, our 22 month old son to Dutch Wonderland (he’s a huge thrill-seeker, but he’s too short for most rides, so we thought Dutch Wonderland would work well ... it did. He got to do a bunch of stuff, but, most especially, he enjoyed the splash pad area (in fact, since the park really doesn’t get *fun* for kids until they’re about 5, it seems, we may just save the $$$ and find a local splash pad

From there, we headed out for the annual “Buffet Dinner and Mini-Golf Tournament” that I’ve run for the past few years ... 17 for dinner this year (Shady Maple Smorgasbord) and 22 for mini-golf (too many!). The golf took much longer than expected (especially when one player decided to become the ‘golf pro’ and began instructing my 8 year old niece on the proper form ... 40 minutes of training later ...

Anyway, while this has been a fun experience, I think the mini-golf will not happen next year (if I go) ... I think I’d rather spend the time playing games and/or interacting with those people in a one-on-one type setting (the golf originally started as just 6 of us, and we all went out in one group; now, we had six groups, so I didn’t even see the people that were in the first group at all.
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11. Board Game: Auction [Average Rating:4.83 Unranked]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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In the past, I’ve spent a lot of money at the WBC auction. This year, there wasn’t that much I was interested in; and – of course – I’m not working. My lone pick-up was a copy of Pressure Matrix in the Auction Store for $5. Big Spender!
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12. Board Game: Guildhall [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:465]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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I had a list of games I wanted to try at the Sampler Showcase – Terra Mystica (was perpetually in use); Kings of Air and Steam (I saw one game; then, apparently, no one else wanted to play it). Guildhall was on my list, so I learned it in a two-player setting. I liked the simplicity and the speed (I’m a big fan of *quick* games.

I caught on quickly, but I fell behind and realized, on my last turn, I didn’t have enough moves to draw the card I needed, play it and turn it in for VPs, so I lost. Still, it’s a potential buy, when I end up with some $$$ again.
 
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13. Board Game: Antiquity [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:150]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Prior to WBC, I’d contacted a number of my friends that I only see there, to see what they might want me to bring/play for the convention. Jeff

Jeff Finkeldey
United States
Lebanon
Ohio
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mentioned this game, which I hadn’t played in a while, so I jumped on it.

We broke it out Tuesday afternoon, and I, along with his daughter, Jessica, tackled it. I helped them out once each (at one point, Jeff ran out of wood – a colossal no-no, so we corrected an action; and another time, Jessica opted to build something other than a hospital, which would’ve resulted in her being overrun with graves in about three turns). After those corrections, things started moving along well; and – quite frankly – when we called it, I think Jessica was in the best shape to win (I might’ve finished third, mainly because each of them expanded towards me, as compared to either expanding towards the other. Effectively, my area of expansion was now halved, while they had sealed off the area between them for expansion later).

More humorous was the number of people that walked by, and said, "ah, so *this* is Antiquity." It prompted Jessica to photograph the game and list it on Facebook as "The Elusive Antiquity."
 
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14. Board Game: Atlantic Storm [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:2232]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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I always try to play in one heat of Atlantic Storm. I’ve actually made the semi-finals (maybe even the finals?) before; but it’s not something I consider a strong game. Two players jumped way out in front, while Steve continued to play the “I have no convoys” game (and kept getting spoils thrown at him).

At one point, I had a two-pt convoy and, I dunno ... maybe 3 points of spoils underneath. I was *clearly* in last place. The person who won the trick had a 1-pt spoil to give away, and it was between me and one of the people who was probably leading (he had 15 points of convoys showing). Nevertheless, he had to think about it – even asking me how many cards I had underneath my 2-pt convoy (it got so bad the other players at the table were incredulous ("just give him the spoil already!")).

Now, there’s some history there – two years ago, that player was in a game with me, and he was seeking help for his attack. I offered to help, if he promised me the larger of the two spoils; and he agreed; so I helped. The next player made the same offer, and he agreed. When I asked him how he would reconcile this, I learned, basically, I would get screwed. And, I was annoyed. Clearly, the more things change .....
 
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15. Board Game: Santa Fe Rails [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:1248]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Off to Santa Fe Rails, for real, this time. I started with an aggressive move, using the red and blue lines to cover up green’s starting area (thus knocking green out of the game). From there, though, the cards didn’t cooperate. All I kept getting were cards in the areas where the trains weren’t going; and, since I’d already ensured a short game, cards were vital. You guessed it – another last place finish.
 
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16. Board Game: Guildhall [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:465]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Waiting for Max to finish up his game, Jessica and I headed to open gaming, where I offered to teach her Guildhall (having learned it just 10 hours earlier), she enjoyed it, and I maximized my card play to actually win a game!
 
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17. Board Game: Yspahan [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:292]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Max showed up and someone else we didn’t know (Wade) asked to join us for a 4p game of Yspahan (again, I had thoughts of potentially playing this in the tournament). There’s definitely an advantage to having played this before (although, repeatedly, I told them not to undervalue camels). The end game caravan scoring took me from fourth place to tied-for-first. Back-to-back wins felt good. I think my luck is changing! Time to go to bed.
 
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18. Board Game: March Madness [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:5388]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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March Madness is one of the games I also try and get a heat in with (this year, I hit two). When I first started with WBC, *all* I played were sports games; so it hearkens back to a more innocent time (for me). Sadly, with no point-spread (as in Paydirt), the team you get makes a huge difference. In both heats, I ended up with lower-seeded teams. This heat, I had 1982 NC, which had some good players; but then, I ran up against the buzzsaw of Terry Coleman’s

Terry Coleman
Canada
Unspecified
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hot dice rolls. I don’t care how good a team you have, if the other player is just rolling 6s, you ain’t winning. I don’t even remember if I made it respectable.
 
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19. Board Game: Global Mogul [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:3257]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Fortunately, that left me free to check out one of the preview games WBC was featuring this year (I actually had wanted to check out all the previews; but this was, ultimately, the only one I made). Global Mogul is Bill Crenshaw’s latest creation (he of Manifest Destiny fame). I really liked it; it’s Euro-ey (worker placement, etc.), while still having a meaningful theme (i.e., it’s not just a theme that is set up to give the game a theme). We only played two turns (of 6, I think), but it’s meaty enough where I’ll probably pick up a copy at some point.
 
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20. Board Game: Paydirt [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:2084]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Off to Paydirt – another sports game (although, realistically, I don’t consider March Madness a sports simulation; at least, not like Paydirt (which is pure simulation)). I took Buffalo in the AFC heat, because they had a low power rating and I didn’t think the run game could be stopped. I was paired up with Terry (again!), and started the game with a 25-0 lead (due to the point spread).

After his initial possession, Terry decided to punt. I rolled – TD on the return. Terry’s ball again; and he marches down the field to kick a field goal. He kicks off – 5 yards deep in the end zone. I decide to run it out. TD. Terry is now down 39-3 and he hasn’t played defense yet.

The second half, however, Terry began a comeback and got down to 2 min to go in the game where he still had a chance to tie (as my team began playing not-to-lose; uber-conservatively). I think I threw 8 passes all game. I squeaked out the win.

Next up, I’m paired against Chad Gormly

Chad Gormly
United States
Massachusetts
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with Pittsburgh. This was a tough defense, and I lost, pretty handily (thoughts on this below, in my next Paydirt entry). My pick of Buffalo wasn’t terribly off though. The other person who picked them (Jeff) made it to the heat finals before losing.

To me, that’s the one drawback with the heat – you can invest 8 hours and not make it to the event finals. And, for someone who enjoys playing sports simulations predominantly on a solitaire level; it’s not something I’m willing to do (although, I’ll admit, if I’d won the second game, I probably would’ve stuck around until the end, on the chance that I *might* win). Still, it’s not unusual for me to win a game and duck out (as I did later).
 
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21. Board Game: Copycat [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:798]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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While waiting for the next heat of Santa Fe Rails, I hooked up with Jim Carvin

Jim Carvin
United States
Hamburg
Pennsylvania
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and we finally delivered on a standing goal of the past three years to play a game together. With Bruce Wigdor and Andy Latto, we sat in Cafe Jay and learned Copycat, which I *also* had thought about playing in the tournament.

I wasn’t sure if Copycat was an homage or an “F-U” to the game designers; I lean towards the latter. It has a card row track (like Through the Ages); it has worker placement on various “offices” (one new one is turned over each turn) (like Agricola); it has a deck-building component, with a starting hand of 7 coins and 3 VPs (like Dominion); and it has the function where roles that aren’t chosen each turn, get a VP placed on them for the next (like Puerto Rico and Core Worlds). Finally, it is completely absent of theme (IMO). You are drawing cards to get money and VPs. The fact that he took these ‘revolutionary’ concepts and made a game completely absent of theme (there’s the hat-tip to Reiner) was pretty remarkable; but I’m not ready to say it was done lovingly.
 
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22. Board Game: Santa Fe Rails [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:1248]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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In to Santa Fe Rails, for the last time this year. I had a good hand of cards and played well, with mostly pleasant people (one small hiccup; as we were refreshing the 2X card to the one player who asked a question about it; I said something like, “I always forget you can dump cards; most of the time, even if it’s past your turn, I’ll usually allow you to dump them and draw new ones; but you can’t change your move” (which seems sensible and fair; since the player can’t adjust his build; but still wanted cards out of his hand (in many cases, that might be the *only* reason to play the 2X)). Sure enough, I forgot once, and as the next player was taking his turn, I laughed and said, “I forgot to do this ...” and traded in cards. He agreed (as we had discussed it before the game); but another player, went “You’re supposed to do that on your turn.” I reminded him we’d talked about it before the game; and he rolled his eyes.

Ironically, later, however; he had to do the same thing; and I made a point of saying, “you certainly can do that; since we discussed it before the game!” Ultimately, he won, regardless; and I finished a very close second ... close enough to qualify for the semi-finals the next morning.
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23. Board Game: Reef Encounter [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:317]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Met up with Jeff (fresh off his all-day Paydirt experience) and Jessica to learn Reef Encounter. Jeff and I had attended a demo a few years earlier, where we both walked away shaking our heads. Since then, he’s taken the time to learn the game; while I didn’t; so he taught me!

I ended up with the most *stuff* eaten; but I couldn’t get the point-scoring tiles oriented the right way, and I finished a close second to Jessica. If I could’ve turned even *one* black scoring tile to the opposite side, I would’ve won. But, it’s still a win, because *I* can now teach the game, as well!
 
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24. Board Game: Santa Fe Rails [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:1248]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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The semi-final heat of Santa Fe Rails had me at a sharks table – Andy Lewis and Tom DeMarco. In the end, I just kept pulling out “7” cities (after they’d already been built to) and I ended up with the win; heading into the finals.
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25. Board Game: Santa Fe Rails [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:1248]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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It’s well known that I don’t take too much seriously; certainly not in games. I’m also quite modest (and almost embarrassed when I win). I have to walk a tight line though; because, a lot of times, I want to help my opponent after the fact (and that can be perceived as gloating). Thankfully, I don’t win all that often!

Here, in the finals, I was feeling pretty okay. Like I said, there’s a lot of luck in Santa Fe Rails (which cards you draw); but I’ve played enough that I can be competitive. Two moves hurt: In one, another player had the option to help us run out the yellow line before another player could connect it to Denver (earning 12 VP). The other player declined. Later, I was moving after that same player (who already had 12VP), and we both had 2X cards. I realized, we’d both get 12 VP (him for connecting blue to LA and me to SD). Instead, he did a great move and took the 4-in-1, which got him all 12 VP (not doubled), but left me nothing.

The ending was a bit awkward. On his move, I started mentioning a potential problem (that, if he and I worked together, we could resolve ... and I knew he and I were towards the top in points). He just kept saying, “It’s my turn!” And, ultimately, he ended the game (and won). I didn’t even see the possibility. He definitely deserved the win; he had far better moves than I. But, this is one reason (and *only* one reason) I’m not more competitive in games ... I don’t care that much. It's also why I prefer the more casual approach of open gaming. I can see myself being equally changed by the *prospect* of the win.

So – another second place for me. I think I’ve made the Santa Fe Rails finals 5 times; and each time, I’ve finished one place out of the plaques. c’est la vie.
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